podcastED: Florida law enforcement dad grateful for scholarship expansion

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd holds up an imitation $5,000 bill emblazoned with the image of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference at the Sheriffs Operation Center in Winter Haven at a promotional event for House Bill 3, which provides signing bonuses of up to $5,000 for recruits who are new to the law enforcement profession or are moving to Florida from a law enforcement agency in another state. PHOTO: Ernst Peters/The Ledger

On this episode, reimaginED Senior Writer Lisa Buie talks with Shawn McCormick, a Florida law enforcement officer, husband, and father of four. McCormick’s children became eligible for a Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options after the passage of House Bill 3, which extended eligibility to law enforcement families regardless of household income.

Among the bill’s incentives:

  • A $5,000 signing bonuses for new law enforcement officers who live in Florida or current officers transferring from out of state; officers must complete training and work two years to qualify for the bonus
  • Coverage of tuition, fees, and up to $1,000 of eligible education expenses for trainees enrolled in a law enforcement officer basic recruit training program through the creation of the Florida Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program
  • A reimbursement program that will pay for up to $1,000 of equivalency training costs for certified law enforcement officers who relocate to Florida or members of special operations forces who become full-time law enforcement officers in Florida

“I learned about (the expansion of scholarship eligibility to law enforcement officers) through one of the teachers at our school. They were very excited to ask me if I knew about it. I thought, ‘That’s great, but there’s no way I would qualify, or it would work out for me.’ Once I started to do a little research into it, I was dumbfounded.

“It was a blessing … it’ll allow me to have more time for my kids. It translates into a nicer, more friendly dad who is around more often, less stressed. You blink your eyes, and your kids are grown, and I’m realizing that every minute I can spend with my kids and not working is huge.”


  • The pivotal childhood experience that inspired McCormick to pursue a law enforcement career
  • Why McCormick and his wife chose Catholic schools for their children
  • Sacrifices the McCormicks had made to afford tuition on a law enforcement salary
  • How McCormick learned about his eligibility for the scholarship
  • How receiving the scholarships will affect McCormick’s career and family life 

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BY Lisa Buie

Lisa Buie is senior reporter for NextSteps. The daughter of a public school superintendent, she spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and bureau chief at the Tampa Bay Times before joining Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, where she served for nearly five years as marketing and communications manager. She lives with her husband and their teenage son, who has benefited from education choice.